ARC sound quality is mindblowing

I am not a tech person, I know close to nothing about what there is to coding etc.
I am mindblown over the difference I experience in the sound quality when comparing ARC to Tidal and Apple music in lossless mode.

It is like the experience when listening to music on a new and better amplificer or new and better speakers! And I honestly dont quite understand why the difference is so noticeable! The soundscape is better detailed; dynamic is more alive; a hi-hat really sounds like a hi-hat and a bass drum sounds like a bass-drum! Channel seperation is more clear.

It is almost like discovering my music all over again.

I have a pretty decent sound system in my car, and spends a lot of time there. So this is where i have noticed the difference.

I am quite eager to learn just a little bit about WHY it can be, that this difference is so obvious - because the source is the same: Tidal. So how come the music just sounds better when listening in ARC rather than Tidal?

I am so so happy about ARC. I am in no way exaggerating when i say that ARC is definetely contributing to the quality of my life. Thank you!


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It could be because ARC is streaming AAC from Tidal instead of the usual MQA.

yeah maybe, but it doesnt look like it when i check the details of the streaming from ARC

Have you changed the quality settings to original format? Is this Android?

in ARC, yes I changed quality settings to original format. In Tidal, settings are in Hi-fi mode.
My sound system in the car does not play high-res, so this is why Tidal is not set to Master quality.
It is iOS.

Thanks. If you didn’t change those settings, Tidal would have streamed AAC.

So if I get this right, you are comparing the sound in your car to the sound of your home system, right? Or is it the Tidal app on the phone vs. ARC on the phone, both in the car?

I am comparing Tidal app on the phone in the car with ARC on the phone in the car.
I was under the impression that Tidal HI-FI is streaming in FLAC not AAC…?

and actually also comparing ARC in the car with Apple music lossless mode in the car. Same significant difference as when comparing ARC with Tidal.

It is, but not if quality is balanced or bandwidth optimized. In that case, you get a compressed stream.

Assuming both ARC and Tidal send the same bits to the phone, it is possible that the differences are only in volume. Louder almost always sounds better. It seems you have volume leveling turned on in ARC. Set it to off and see if it makes any difference.

thanks - yes I did do that comparison also, setting volume leveling off on both apps, and then on again.
ARC still sounds better, both when in on- and in off position.
There is a tendency when volume leveling/sound control is in off-mode, that occasional distorted/crackling sounds appear, which are not there when volume leveling is on. But this is another matter :slight_smile:

Yeah, volume leveling may be reducing the volume, which can avoid clipping.

Well, the only things I can think of are:

  • ARC and Tidal are pulling different bits for some reason.
  • They may be using the audio driver differently.
  • You’re just excited about ARC.

Comparison of ARC with Apple music is not exactly apples to apples :slight_smile:

Hi, I am an audiophile and programmer. I have similar feelings as you do.

I have carefully compared and researched this issue, comparing Tidal played out through Roon and Tidal’s software.

The conclusion is that Roon is quietly making gains internally, maybe +1db or +2db.
Anyway, let’s enjoy Roon and leave the rest to Roon.


Thanks Marian :slight_smile: I am curious about your last comment, that comparing ARC and apple music is not exacly apples to apples…since Apple music went lossless, why wouldnt that comparison then be an equal one? I have set apple music to play in lossless quality when using cellular.

Hi Rolex, thanks!
Could you explain in laymans terms what it means, that Roon quitely is making gains internally on +1/+2 db…?

Tidal and Apple music may or may not use the same masters, so the fact that they’re both lossless is not relevant.

Roon should only adjust the gain when volume leveling is on. If not, it should be bit perfect. I don’t think they’re hiding anything.

Hi, I mean that Roon has increased the volume inside the program or added the dynamic processing of the music.

If they changed gain or fiddled with dynamics, it should show in the signal path.

I’m happy people are so glad about Roon’s improved sound quality.

This is because I often face the question when recommending Roon to my audiophile friends whether its sound quality is worth $700 or whether cheaper playback software than his surpasses Roon in sound quality.

In fact, after seriously comparing Roon and Audirvana’s sound quality two years ago, I concluded that Audirvana had done some gain processing inside the program, and the result was that it sounded better than Roon.

I am a staunch Roon advocate because it uses a Linux server mindset to make a music server, the most visionary music playback software company I have seen. Meanwhile, I can’t help but feel like I’ve made a profit when I see a Roon that I bought for $699 a few years ago after paying $499. : -)


Whether a preamp or a poweramp, it will not be written clearly in the tuning of the specific details of what adjustments were made.

But we can be sure that expensive amplifiers do spend a lot of energy on tuning technology outside of the parameters marked in the manual, so audiophiles spend a lot of money on their products and feel that it is a worthwhile investment.

Roon has carefully studied the tuning inside the software, it is not necessary to write clearly in the manual what specific adjustments were made. This is also a trade secret, this is my opinion.


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